In my Neurology rotation, I saw a lot of patients with "spasmodic dysphonia," which makes people sound like they are choked up with emotion or they are sick. It is described as "breathy," or "halting, strangled" voice that trips up on diphthongs, two vowel sounds. It can be precipitated by a stressful event, leading many physicians to think that it is psychogenic.
Surprisingly, Botox (Botulinum toxin A) is a definitive treatment! With EMG guidance, a needle is advanced into the vocalis muscle and injected with a small amount of Botox to paralyze the spastic muscle for 3-4 months.
Other causes for hoarseness include:
Inflammation-> allergies, trauma, URI
GERD-> laryngopharyngeal reflux (treated with a PPI)
Vocal cord lesions (granuloma, papilloma, edema, squamous cell carcinoma,)
Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve injury or Vagus nerve injury (aortic aneurysm, mass effect)
Neurological problems like Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis
Systemic disease (acromegaly, amyloidosis, hypothyroidism, inflammatory arthritis, sarcoidosis)